Hydra Market (RU)
Hydra Market is a Russian darknet marketplace that’s regarded as the most popular DNM in the world’s Russophone regions. Having helped hundreds of thousands of users engage in commerce since 2015, Hydra has attracted one of the largest usersbases among markets of its kind. And while it’s often said that darknet marketplaces haven’t innovated much since the Silk Road, Hydra’s shown a willingness to buck the space’s status quo: in December 2019 the site’s admins launched an initial coin offering (ICO) sale with the aim of raising $146 million USD worth of Bitcoin. Reportedly, the raise was for creating Eternos, a new global DNM that would have a built-in crypto exchange and over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk.
Since Hydra was designed for Russian speakers, the site’s user interface will be mostly impenetrable to anyone who can’t navigate Cyrillic letters. For its core demographic, though, Hydra provides a simple dashboard through which buyers and vendors can undertake their business. Since Bitcoin is the market’s primary currency, its dashboard highlights in real-time the going BTC exchange rate in U.S. dollars and Russian rubles.
Another major design factor of the site is that Hydra vendors don’t deliver products by mail. Instead they use drop spots, for example a specific mailbox at a specific time, and instruct buyers how to retrieve purchases accordingly.
Hydra offers most DNM staple features like escrow payments, encrypted communications, 2FA logins. Other than that it's just another darknet market.
Hydra isn’t terrible when it comes to security, but it also doesn’t score too high on it, either. The transactions that take place on the market rely on Bitcoin and electronic money transfers, its financial activity is ultimately trackable if combined with other relevant information that authorities might be able to obtain.
Hydra has proven generally reliable to date, so there’s that. An additional thing to consider is that the site’s ICO sale may have been a novel effort in the darknet arena but it also widened the attack surface of the project. Global regulators have been paying increased attention to unregistered securities offerings in recent years, so an illegal token sale conducted by a darknet marketplace is sure to be doubly interesting to authorities. As the old Russian proverb goes, the tallest blade of grass is the first to get sliced by the scythe. Another wrinkle to watch will be how Hydra’s operators continue to approach the Eternos project, namely if they will actually bring it to fruition.